IN THE HUDDLE: Sam Young

Looking for one of the most complete offensive linemen in the nation? Here is one who has played the position for three years at a high level and on the largest stage in the state of Florida. But do you know what position this gifted standout began his career at?

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Sam Young
POSITION: OT
SCHOOL: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas
HEIGHT: 6-7.5
WEIGHT: 290
40 SPEED: 5.17
HEAD COACH: George Smith
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 9

After watching thousands and thousands of high school football players through the course three plus decades, you tend to have a good idea which ones will be special.

Having been fortunate to see some of the premier football players in the nation, without ever leaving the state of Florida, you come across athletes, who you simply don't judge by how fast they are or how many reps of 185 they can do.

For those who know me, understand that I cannot figure how anyone would rate a player or make a ranking off of the numbers put up in a combine setting. Combines are good, but in NO way do they reflect how good a FOOTBALL player an individual is.

Ironically, the first time I saw Sam Young was at a football camp at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. It was after his ninth grade year, when he attended Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale and played tight end. His move over to St. Thomas was met with two things as he was introduced to Coach George Smith and his staff.

The first thing that Young found out was his tight end days were over. Anyone who was 6-4 and 260 pounds and had athletic ability as a rising sophomore, especially heading to a football hotbed such as St. Thomas, would be groomed as a linemen.

The second thing Young found out, and it wasn't until he arrived at the Fort Lauderdale campus, he would receive tremendous instruction, and would be tested every day in practice – by the players and by the coaching staff who didn't accept losing very well.

By the time he was in the middle of his sophomore season, Young was no longer that "kid" who made his way to become a Raider. There wasn't one player or coach I talked who didn't predict "stardom" for this budding star. By the time I saw him in his seventh game and then again in the playoffs, I agreed. I remember walking away thinking Big-10 lineman who will be at that left tackle position for the next 17 years.

While some laughed at my early prediction, nobody seemed to laugh last year, when he established himself as one of the top junior linemen in the country, and when you consider that he lined up next to Daniel Wenger and Marcus Gilbert every day at practice, and in every game, you can fully understand how impressive this student/athlete had become.

Through the course of the year, I had gotten to know Sam, the person, talked with his father on several occasions and made sure to continue following this rising lineman.

By the time most people were watching Young for the first time in last year's 5A state championship game against Lakeland, and proclaiming that they had just uncovered a star in the making for the first time, it had become old news for me and those who had watched him play since his sophomore year.

This past spring, he attended the first ever Perfect Competition/FloridaKids.us Camp in Davie, and enjoyed himself. I had the pleasure of talking with him at the event, and like he has always been, Young was cordial, friendly and didn't reveal too much.

STRENGTHS: As a football player, the first thing you see is how athletic he can be. His ability to grasp schemes, use his body in ways that others with his size simply cannot and lead by example are qualities that every college wants to wrap themselves around.

Because he is such a student – in the classroom and on the field – there are very few things that Young doesn't pick up and apply.

As a football player, he has plenty of room to grow. But if you watch him on a series of drives, you will immediately get what the hype has always been about. He is always double teamed or trapped by defenses trying to get an edge, but to his credit and those around him, if you spend too much time worrying about him, the other linemen the Raiders have will open holes and protect equally as well.

In a drive that I remember the most. Perhaps one that has defined his career so far, Young paved the way for the running game to click and enable St. Thomas to beat rival Ely in Pompano Beach.

On the first play, Young stood the defensive tackle straight up and drove him four yards off the ball away from the direction of the play. While his block may not have sprung the runner, it showed me that he will decoy block and sustain that block until the whistle blows.

The second play was a short pass play, and that's where his feet, upper body strength and quickness came into play as the rush end had no chance to get near the quarterback. He stood straight up and used his technique to his advantage.

The third play saw Young pull out and start to get up field as he led the way for a 22-yard run. On that play he fought off an initial block and then made contact with three other defenders during the course of the run. That was, for no other words, the play that made many believers of his abilities and skill level.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: No matter what college he attends, strength will be a factor. While he has good size and is tremendously athletic, there is plenty of room to add more strength. He works out nearly every day, and when he gets to the next level, he will only get stronger.

The other thing that I see is Young needing to get mentally tougher and develop a mean streak on the football field during the game. He's a nice kid who is dominating at this level, but down the line, there will be those gifted 6-5, 320-pounders who can run, are very strong and agile, and who are out to beat you up. He needs to rise to the occasion and be meaner than the opposition!

OVERALL: Very seldom to see a young lineman who you predict stardom for so early. This is a position that maturity, experience and knowledge play a big part in the overall growing process. But with Sam Young, you get the feeling that he will rise to the occasion wherever he lands!

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: There are at least eight schools who Young has been looking at, and hundreds of others who have been looking at him.

Michigan and Penn State are those Big-10 schools that I was talking about. I still feel that he is one of those Big-10 type of linemen. The Atlantic Coast Conference has also attracted his attention with Miami, FSU and Duke on the list as well.

The University of Florida, USC and Notre Dame also figure in the mix that will only grow over the course of the next 10 months.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
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IN THE HUDDLE: CHANCE ATTAWAY – BLOUNTSTOWN
IN THE HUDDLE: GEORGE ROBINSON – MIAMI CENTRAL
IN THE HUDDLE: TIMOTHY BROWN – MIAMI NORTHWESTERN
IN THE HUDDLE: XAVIER HARRIS – FORT LAUDERDALE
IN THE HUDDLE: DANIEL LINCOLN – OCALA FOREST
IN THE HUDDLE: PATRICK ADOLPHE – DELRAY BEACH ATLANTIC
IN THE HUDDLE: QUINTIN HANCOCK – ST. AUGUSTINE
IN THE HUDDLE: CHARLES DEAS – LAUDERDALE LAKES BOYD ANDERSON
IN THE HUDDLE: DONALD BOWENS – ST. PETERSBURG
IN THE HUDDLE: ROBERT LOVE - PAHOKEE
IN THE HUDDLE: CAZ PIUROWSKI – LAND O'LAKES
IN THE HUDDLE: STERLIN JAMES – SPARR NORTH MARION
IN THE HUDDLE: JOHN WARE – FORT LAUDERDALE CARDINAL GIBBONS
IN THE HUDDLE: MARKEVIOUS POWELL – ORLANDO EVANS
IN THE HUDDLE: BILLY LOWE - LAKELAND
IN THE HUDDLE: JAVON HILL – MIAMI MONSIGNOR PACE
IN THE HUDDLE: CODY CLINTON – BOCA RATON
IN THE HUDDLE: JARED MARTIN – DAVIE WESTERN
IN THE HUDDLE: COLIN MCCARTHY – CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC
IN THE HUDDLE: DONTAE JONES – ORLANDO EVANS
IN THE HUDDLE: DAMON PIFER – GREEN COVE SPRINGS CLAY
IN THE HUDDLE: CHRIS SORCE - PACE
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IN THE HUDDLE: JAMES POE – ORLANDO FREEDOM
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IN THE HUDDLE: COURTNEY JONES: PENSACOLA
IN THE HUDDLE: BRYAN THOMAS - ZEPHYRHILLS
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IN THE HUDDLE: PRESTON PARKER – DELRAY BEACH ATLANTIC
IN THE HUDDLE: SABBATH JOSEPH – MIAMI CENTRAL
IN THE HUDDLE: RYAN KHAWLY – HOMESTEAD SOUTH DADE
IN THE HUDDLE: BRANDON JAMES – ST. AUGUSTINE
IN THE HUDDLE: KEITH HOUSTON – IVES ESTATES DR. MICHAEL KROP
IN THE HUDDLE: REGGIE ODOM - DELAND
IN THE HUDDLE: C.J. SPILLER – LAKE BUTLER UNION COUNTY
IN THE HUDDLE: RILEY COOPER – CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC
IN THE HUDDLE: JAMES JAMISON – STARKE BRADFORD COUNTY
IN THE HUDDLE: DESMOND GEE - MADISON COUNTY
IN THE HUDDLE: RICKY GARY - PAHOKEE
IN THE HUDDLE: LAURANCE MARIUS – KEY WEST
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IN THE HUDDLE: RICHARD JACKSON – CLERMONT EAST RIDGE
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